(long story coming up…)
It’s 9:30 December 23 and three years ago at this time I was in labor with Beth. I had gone into the hospital with her at 32 (December 16) weeks gestation, dialated, and having contractions. With massive amounts of magnesium sulfate, they stopped my labor.
But due to my history with Jake’s birth at 31 weeks, they kept me in the hospital for another week. It was interesting.
After twenty-four hours of puking every fifteen minutes (mag. sul. side effect) and blurred vision, the doctors decided to hang me upside down to pool the fluid that was leaking from me so they could get enough to test. They weren’t sure it was amniotic fluid. I was. It was the same scenario as with Jake. I just didn’t know it with him.
Residents, interns, and med students cycled through my room, examining my upside down crotch before even saying hello. I thought the upside down thing was a joke. Or just a some “task” for the med students to cross off their list of bizarre courses of treatment.
Anyway, once they knew Beth’s lungs were fully developed they induced me and she was born at 33 weeks, at one in the morning on Christmas Eve. My favorite day of the year. And that was before she was born.
She was amazing from the start. The two weeks longer she spent inside me (compared to Jake) seemed to make a huge difference in her personality. Part of it is individual difference, of course, but at that stage of pregnancy, staying inside one day makes a huge difference in health. And she was calmer, less pained.
Anyway, I left the hospital Christmas Eve, feeling guilty that Jake would have spent Christmas without me. When he had been in the NICU I had seen many mothers come and go, not staying long to visit at all. I was the opposite with him, but thought it wasn’t fair to stay at the hospital when Jake needed me.
Well, he didn’t need me (he was with Bill and our extended family) and I should have stayed in the hospital that second day. For me and for Beth.
I had a great day with Jake and my family, but as we left my brother’s house after Christmas dinner I went into a compelete panic, not believing I had actually left Beth alone just one day after she was born. I thought it would be easier the second time around. In some wasy it was. In many ways, it was just as difficult.
And so, I let go and let my parents and Bill handle Jake until Beth came home. I knew he’d be okay, that I had to be with Beth.
From the beginning, she responded to my presence. When I’d walk in the NICU and say her name, she’d turn toward my voice. She’d burrow into my body and fall asleep without breastfeeding a bit. I’d have to strip her down and hold her upright so she’d wake up enough to eat.
The nurses called her Sweet Beth. The one who waited patiently for their care and quietly did her job–developing.
But as is the case still today, Beth moves at her own pace. More like Bill than Jake or me. She was in the NICU over a week longer than they ever expected her to be. Those damn heart stoppages, sort of put the brakes on going home. Jake was out of the hospital long before they thought he would be.
Beth takes her time, noticing everything, exlporing, creating, talking as though she is much older.
I love that she’s that way. Slow. The exact opposite of me. As though she came into my life to fill in what was missing in me. LIke-wise Jake seems to do that for Bill.
Sweet Beth. She is and we are so grateful she is here. How lucky can a person be? The greatest Christmas gift ever.